For any comic book to last longer than a few years, more so nowadays than ever before, it has to be doing something right. Such is the case for stalwart British comic 2000 AD, a magazine that I happen to have been subscribed to for a mere 14 years of its near 40 years of existence. This documentary presents a brief history of the comic, proceeding on a whistle stop tour of the comic’s highlights from its launch in 1977 to date.
As a fan of the comic since about 2002 (and a subscriber since then), there is plenty here that I already knew, but plenty that I didn’t. As far as a recommendation goes, whether you are a 2000 AD fan or a non-fan, there is plenty to get stuck into.
It is a sad fact that, more often than not, it is impossible to discuss real world matters without either offending somebody or being told that you are being insensitive towards those involved in the events. How do you get around this? By setting your stories in a science fiction world, naturally. It is this that has allowed 2000 AD to thrive by mixing solid action, adventure, thriller and horror stories with deep characterisation and storylines that reflect the world in which we live.
This documentary takes a talking heads approach to the comic, picking up interviews with many of its key players from its history. Sadly the likes of Alan Moore, Mark Millar and Garth Ennis declined to be interviewed, but we do get anecdotes and recollections from many comic industry greats such as Pat Mills and John Wagner (who helped launch the comic), and even the likes of Neil Gaiman, Bryan Talbot and the incredibly talented artist Carlos Ezquerra add to proceedings. Presented in a chapter style format, each transition to a new topic is signalled by a pleasing animated transition using panels from the comic, which perfectly fit in with 2000 AD’s punk aesthetic.
While 2000 AD has proven to be a success story – how many other comics launched before 1990 (or even 1980) are still going strong? – the documentary doesn’t pull any punches and covers the less positive aspects of the comic’s history. That it was able to survive the creative lull it experienced in the 1990s is testament to its core concept and the benefit of being an anthology format. If a story doesn’t work there are four more to sink your teeth into.
While the content is interesting to fans and non-fans alike, it would have been nice to expand on some of the topics, all of which get a little time before whizzing onto the next. There is a glut of content that could be uncovered from the comic’s history and much of it barely gets a mention.
But then crafting an entertaining narrative and boiling the story down to its core elements is no easy task. For its brief running time there is a lot of ground covered. Here’s hoping the uncut interviews see a separate release, the Pat Mills conversation alone looks like it could be a killer.